On a brisk and sunny Friday afternoon Luz walked a small group over to the African American Civil War Memorial in the U Street neighborhood to point out the names of Latino immigrants who fought alongside African Americans during the war.
Luz was recently hired by the museum as part of a grant from the Kellogg Foundation aimed at expanding this cultural center’s reach to the D.C. Latino community. As the Latino Outreach Specialist, Luz does outreach to schools and other community groups to engage them in museum programming. In November 2017 Luz secured this job thanks to the help of job developer Mr. Le. She hopes that it will evolve from a part time, grant-funded position into a full-time, permanent role. Her goal is to expand beyond schools to engaging embassies and large Latino-focused organizations like the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the museum’s mission.
Luz came to the U.S. from her native Colombia in 2000 with two suitcases and two daughters fleeing the violence that was dividing the country. Reflecting on her own experiences, Luz says she understands civil war, and she sees herself as a bridge between the Latino and African American communities in Washington, D.C. She said, “In the U.S. civil war immigrants and African Americans had to stick together. I feel my job is important because I can connect African American culture with Hispanic culture. I think we can do a lot of things together.”